What causes the northern lights or Aurora Borealis? Can you really see one with your naked eye? Do they make any sound or is it just an urban myth? Find out the science behind it.
What Exactly Are the Northern Lights of Alaska?
Have you come across weird-looking clouds? What if normal clouds came in breathtaking hues? The Holy Grail of Skywatching is spending night after night watching the clouds of Aurora Borealis in Alaska race past time.
What Causes the Northern Light or Aurora Borealis?
How are the northern lights formed? Though the atmospheric event is a feat to onlookers, the northern lights of Alaska are actually caused by a violent phenomenon. We all know that the earth has a tilted axis.
Where Can You See the Northern Lights?
- A. Alaska
- B. Texas
- C. California
- D. All of the Above
The energized particles from sun rays are extremely hot and the earth prevents the equator and tropical regions from overheating by redirecting these rays towards the poles using its magnetic field. The whirlwind of these particles causes the northern lights or Aurora Borealis.
Why Do They Call It the Northern Lights?
The 30,000-year-old French cave paintings have references to these spectacular cloud shows. These references had named the occurrence as northern lights and southern lights on each pole. The name Aurora Borealis was coined by an Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei. He named the event after the Roman Goddess Aurora who controls dawn and the Greek God Boreas who controls the north wind.
Facts about the Northern Lights
Do you know what is special about the northern lights? Find out below:
- Though scientists have found out the reason behind the formation of the Aurora Borealis they weren’t sure how the solar wind was capable of hitting earth with such a force until recently.
- There are many misconceptions and mysteries about the northern and southern lights. From NASA astronomers to several private organizations are still searching for answers.
- These lights are only visible from higher altitudes.
- Though the northern and southern lights namely Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis are formed due to the same reason, they both are poles apart in terms of distance and appearance.
- STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) is a similar atmospheric phenomenon.
- Auroras are common on all the planets. Venus and Mars have the lightest difference due to their weak magnetic field.
- Though the auroras happen year round you need to be in the right place at the right time to spot one. Alaska’s northern lights are the most popular of all.
- The northern lights have a dull rustling or popping sound.